Ravens' Wright concedes nothing in QB battle

Whenever the Baltimore Ravens' quarterback competition is discussed, Anthony Wright is keenly aware that he is usually the third contender mentioned.<p> And that doesn't offend him. All the veteran passer wants to do is continue to compete with incumbent Chris Redman and first-round draft pick Kyle Boller.<p>

Regardless of the fact that Ravens coach Brian Billick has yet to declare a starter, Wright realizes there's a certain pecking order in the NFL based heavily on pedigree.

Redman is a third-round pick who started until he aggravated a back injury last fall. He's known for his efficiency and professional approach.

Boller is lauded constantly for his arm strength and athleticism. Plus, Baltimore made the significant investment of drafting the former Cal star 19th overall after trading next year's first-round pick and this year's second-round pick to acquire him.

"I understand the situation, the circumstances, and I just want to do my job," said Wright, who didn't appear in any games last season for Baltimore after being released by the Dallas Cowboys. "All I can control is what I do on the football field. "I've held my own and I've shown the coaches that I can run this team and perform at this level. Some things are out of my control, and that I can't comment on."

Being cast in the role of underdog isn't an unfamiliar story line for Wright. He entered this league as an undrafted free agent who fought his way onto the Pittsburgh Steelers' roster after overcoming a major knee injury in college.

Wright conquered another obstacle by actually starting for the Cowboys in relief of Troy Aikman and then Quincy Carter.

He started five games in two seasons and directed two victories over the Washington Redskins. Yet, he compiled totals of 766 yards, five touchdowns, eight interceptions and a 50.8 quarterback rating.

Now, Wright, 27, is attempting to defeat odds that include the factor of reduced repetitions after Boller's intriguing debut with a touchdown strike in the final minute of Saturday's 20-19 loss to the Buffalo Bills.

Wright completed 7-of-11 attempts for 75 yards in the second quarter with an interception thrown directly to linebacker DaShon Polk. He did find Randy Hymes for a 41-yard reception, but compiled a quarterback rating of 45.6.

"It was the first preseason game and you expect good and bad," Wright said. "I was just starting to get into a rhythm before halftime. You can't really judge my performance on those couple of possessions. "It's not like I was awful. I just made a few mistakes."

As the starter, Redman wasn't appreciably better with 5-of-8 accuracy for 55 yards and a rating of 43.2. However, his interception was caused by receiver Marcus Robinson bobbling a slant.

Redman has a greater margin of error because of his starting background here. He's taken the majority of the work with the first unit in practice since camp began. Wright's repetitions in team drills have decreased dramatically since Boller's contract holdout ended, even noticeably more this week.

"It's all part of the rotations," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "It's just the way it's going down this week. He understands that, what we are trying to get done. Just as the other two when it comes time for them to not get so many reps."

The truest barometer of the Ravens' positive opinion on Wright was their reluctance to sign a more experienced veteran.

"Anthony's a guy with a strong arm who had that Charlie Ward mentality as far as breaking tackles," said Robinson who played with Wright for two seasons at South Carolina. "He was definitely a playmaker. I feel the same way about him now."

Wright has progressed markedly in his knowledge of the offense over the last year.

"It's nice that we brought him into the mix," quarterbacks and receivers coach David Shaw said. "It's nice that we brought him into the mix and that has jumpstarted him so far for a good preseason."

Barring a major development in the quarterback battle between now and the season-opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers, though, Wright appears to be in a position that promises him job security although no guarantees of playing time.

"I came into this league defeating the odds and I'm going to continue to defeat the odds," Wright said. "If I had been a first-round pick, things would be different. 'I accept that, but that won't stop me from fighting to get on the field. When I do get my chance, I can show these coaches exactly what I can do."

Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.


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